As far back as I can remember I’ve had sort of a low-grade phobia about being sprayed by skunks. It was a well-formed fear, with lots of reinforcement. Any time I witnessed an encounter, my Dad would maintain a space of at least fifty feet between himself and the varmint. He’d shoot groundhogs, possums and most anything else that disturbed the tranquility of our farmstead. Skunks, though, usually got a free pass. “It’s not worth the stink,” he’d say and head on to some other chore that didn’t involve close proximity to a walking stink bomb.
In addition to that consistent pattern, there were the stories at school. “My uncle got sprayed once. The smell made him puke and then he had to bury his clothes in the ground for a month to get rid of the smell.” “My grandmother says that if you ever get sprayed you have to soak yourself in a tub of tomato juice and wash your hair with kerosene.” “My cousin got sprayed last year and he had to sleep in the barn for two weeks. My aunt wouldn’t even let him in the house.”
And then, there was Roy Morris’ advice: “You can soak your clothes with kerosene and then set ’em on fire; that’ll get rid of the smell.” He paused, for dramatic effect I’m sure, and then added, “Probably should take ’em off first, though.” He sounded so serious it was three years later before I got the joke.
Although I’ve had a couple of close encounters, both of which greatly amused the family members who witnessed them, I’ve never been sprayed by a skunk. I believe I shall be able to pass from this life without any disappointment on that point if I never do gain that experience.
I have, though, been hit by the stink of sin. It was dreadful.
It was so bad that it killed the Son of God. They had to bury him for three days just to get rid of the stench. It worked out, though. He came out smelling like the Rose of Sharon and I’ve been clean ever since.